« ZurückWeiter »
never changes-and that the more thoroughly she is sifted and put to the test by the interrogations of the curious, the more certainly will they find that she walks by a rule which knows no abatement, and perseveres with obedient footstep in that even course, from which the eye of strictest scrutiny has never yet detected one hair-breadth of deviation. It is no longer doubted by men of science, that every remaining semblance of irregularity in the universe, is due, not to the fickleness of Nature, but to the ignorance of man—that her most hidden movements are conducted with a uniformity as rigorous as Fate—that even the fitful agitations of the weather have their law and their principle—that the intensity of every breeze, and the number of drops in every shower, and the formation of every cloud, and all the occurring alternations of storm and sunshine, and the endless shiftings of temperature, and those tremulous varieties of the air which our instruments have enabled us to discover, but have not enabled us to explain-that still, they follow each other by a method of succession, which, though greatly more intricate, is yet as absolute in itself as the order of the seasons, or the mathematical courses of astronomy. This is the impression of every philosophical mind with regard to Nature, and it is strengthened by each new accession that is made to science. The more we are acquainted with her, the more are we led to recognise her constancy; and to view her as a mighty though complicated machine, all whose results are sure, and all whose workings are invariable.
But there is enough of patent and palpable regularity in Nature, to give also to the popular mind, the same impression of her constancy. There is a gross and general experience that teaches the same lesson, and that has lodged in every bosom a kind of secure and steadfast confidence in
the uniformity of her processes. The very child knows and proceeds upon it. He is aware of an abiding character and property in the elements around him, and has already
learned as much of the fire, and the water, and the food that he eats, and the firm ground that he treads upon, and even of the gravitation by which he must regulate his postures and his movements, as to prove, that, infant though he be, he is fully initiated in the doctrine, that Nature has her laws and her ordinances, and that she continueth therein. And the proofs of this are ever multiplying along the journey of human observation: insomuch, that when we come to manhood, we read of Nature's constancy throughout every department of the visible world. It meets us wherever we turn our eyes. Both the day and the night bear witness to it. The silent revolutions of the firmament give it their pure testimony. Even those appearances in the heavens, at which superstition stood aghast and imagined that Nature was on the eve of giving way, are the proudest trophies of that stability which reigns throughout her processes-of that unswerving consistency wherewith she prosecutes all her movements. And the lesson that is thus held forth to us from the heavens above, is responded to by the earth below; just as the tides of ocean wait the footsteps of the moon, and by an attendance kept up without change or intermission for thousands of years, would seem to connect the regularity of earth with the regularity of heaven. But, apart from these greater and simpler energies, we see a course and a uniformity everywhere. We recognise it in the mysteries of vegetation. We follow it through the successive stages of growth, and maturity, and decay, both in plants and animals. We discern it still more palpably in that beautiful circulation of the element of water, as it rolls its way by many thousand channels to the ocean; and from the surface of this expanded reservoir is again uplifted to the higher regions of the atmosphere, and is there dispersed in light and fleecy magazines over the four quarters of the globe; and at length accomplishes its orbit, by falling in showers on a world that waits to be refreshed by it. And
all goes to impress us with the regularity of Nature, which in fact teems, throughout all its varieties, with power, and principle, and uniform laws of operation; and is viewed by us as a vast laboratory—all the progressions of which have a rigid and unfailing necessity stamped upon them.
THE DOWNFAL OF POLAND.
O SACRED Truth! thy triumph ceased awhile,
Warsaw's last champion, from her height survey'd, Wide o'er the fields, a waste of ruin laid,—
'O Heaven!" he cried, "my bleeding country save!—
He said, and on the rampart-heights array'd
In vain, alas!-in vain, ye gallant few! From rank to rank your volley'd thunder flew:— Oh! bloodiest picture in the book of time, Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a crime! Found not a generous friend, a pitying foe, Strength in her arms, nor mercy in her wo! Dropp'd from her nerveless grasp the shatter'd spear, Closed her bright eye, and curb'd her high career! Hope, for a season, bade the world farewell, And freedom shriek'd as Kosciusko fell!
The sun went down, nor ceased the carnage there, Tumultuous murder shook the midnight air; On Prague's proud arch the fires of ruin glow, His blood-dyed waters murmuring far below! The storm prevails—the rampart yields away— Bursts the wild cry of horror and dismay! Hark! as the smouldering piles with thunder fall, A thousand shrieks for hopeless mercy call! Earth shook-red meteors flash'd along the sky— And conscious Nature shudder'd at the cry!
O righteous Heaven! ere Freedom found a grave, Why slept the sword omnipotent to save? Where was thine arm, O Vengeance!—where thy rod That smote the foes of Zion and of God?— That crush'd proud Ammon, when his iron car Was yoked in wrath, and thunder'd from afar?— Where was the storm that slumber'd till the host Of blood-stain'd Pharaoh left their trembling coast, Then bade the deep in wild commotion flow, And heaved an ocean on their march below?
Departed spirits of the mighty dead!— Ye that at Marathon and Leuctra bled!
Friends of the world!-restore your swords to man;
HAMLET'S SOLILOQUY ON DEATH.
To be or not to be!-that is the question:
Must give us pause. There's the respect
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,